WASHINGTON — Congressman Adam Kinzinger was in his Capitol office early Wednesday afternoon when its security force was no longer able to keep a group of protesters out of its hallowed chambers.
“I’m going to be keeping a low profile” for the next few days, Kinzinger told the Daily Journal in a mid-morning interview Thursday. “Wednesday was just unprecedented. I hate saying this, but I totally saw this coming.”
Kinzinger initially labeled the Capitol attack a “coup attempt.”
While the culprits for the events which unfolded as Congress was in the early stages of certifying the Electoral College votes will be debated for years to come and theories will emerge as to why it happened, the fact that it happened at all left the 16th Illinois Congressional District U.S. Representative searching for reason.
Kinzinger discounted an early theory that the event was sparked by the planting of a political protest movement, Antifa or anarchists.
He acknowledged people from groups like that may have participated, but he believes it was protesters loyal to Trump. A massive group of Trump supporters had convened in Washington, D.C., Tuesday and Wednesday as electoral votes were being tallied.
The legislator said if people are convinced the election was stolen, then it is not irrational to do what happened on Wednesday.
“Then it gets into mob action. ... But these were Trump supporters that were in the middle of the Capitol. It’s time to be honest with people as to where we are as a country,” he said.
Initially in the House chamber when the hearing began, Kinzinger said he went to his office. He was quickly informed of what was transpiring and could not believe what was happening when the building was cleared for safety concerns of the House Representatives and Senators.
“There was a period there for about 30 minutes when I was genuinely concerned” for members’ safety, he said. “The police were overwhelmed. It was surreal. It was creepy.”
Both the Senate and the House sergeant-at-arms resigned Thursday regarding the breach of security. Late this week, Kinzinger called for the removal of Trump as president.
He was the first GOP Congressional member to seek removal of the president. His call for Trump’s removal was backed by Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker.
Pritzker said, “Two weeks is too long for Donald Trump to remain in office, where he can continue to incite more untold violence.”
Kinzinger said there are definitely questions which need to be asked and answered as to how security failed.
“They were outmanned and outnumbered,” he said. “But I don’t know why [security] weren’t aware of this. We pay a lot of money to keep the ‘people’s house’ safe.”
The Republican Party’s role in the “people’s house” is something of great concern for Kinzinger. A U.S. Representative since 2010, first elected to represent the 11th Congressional District when he was based in Manteno and defeated then U.S. Rep Debbie Halvorson, he switched to the 16th District after redistricting following the 2010 U.S. Census.
Kinzinger said the Republican Party certainly has its work cut out for itself. He said the party, which is now the minority in both the House and Senate and failed to hold onto the White House, must come to terms with how it moves forward.
“I hope this is the moment to wake us up from a Friday night bender. This has been damaging to the party. We are going to have to fight for what it is we stand for,’’ he said. He plans to fight for the restoration of the party’s conservative values,” he said.
Regarding President Trump and a possible run for the presidency in 2024, Kinzinger didn’t see that happening before Wednesday’s events, he believes those actions make a return even less likely.
Regarding a rumored run for the Illinois governor’s office, he said that’s not on his mind.
“The mission to achieve right now is to protect this country,” he said.
But, he didn’t totally discard posing a challenge to Gov. JB Pritzker either.
“I am not plotting to do that, but I wouldn’t rule it out,” he said.
“The preservation of our democracy is so important. I’m still shook up. ... We have all taken so much for granted for so long.”
Capital News Illinois contributed to this story.
The Kankakee County Health Department is asking residents for patience as it works through vaccinating the 1A group and prepares to begin vaccinating the next prioritized 1B group.
“We’re going to go through this list best we can,” Kankakee County Health Department Administrator John Bevis said. “The more people who get vaccinated, [we] will definitely knock this little critter off to the curb so that we can get back to what everyone wants, that normalcy.”
Bevis said the state was initially projecting to move to the 1B group in mid January, but it seems now that it will be pushed back at least to the beginning of February.
Kankakee County is still working through vaccinating the 1A group, which includes healthcare workers and long-term care facility residents and staff.
The state’s intention is to wait for substantial completion statewide before giving counties the OK to move on to subsequent groups.
Bevis said the lengthy process is as frustrating to the health department as it has been for residents.
Unfortunately, it is a “slow roll” right now and patience is necessary.
The department has to receive, process and store vaccine shipments; then, it has to set up clinics, contact agencies with eligible workers, take appointments and administer a series of two shots three and four weeks apart.
“Kankakee County has a population of 110,000, and if half the people want a shot, and they need two shots, that’s 100,000 shots,” Bevis said. “It’s going to take some time to get through everybody to do one shot, let alone two.”
He said coordinating by appointment is necessary so vaccines are not wasted; the vaccines must be stored at a specific temperature and can only be removed from storage for a certain timeframe. The vaccine cannot just be stored on a shelf for use at a later date.
In addition, social distancing is still a priority.
“We aren’t in a situation where we can just put the sign up and say if you want a shot come and get it,” Bevis said. “We have to be sensitive and careful for social distancing. If people [line up] at the health department to get a shot, that line could extend to the county line, and we can’t have that.”
The department began the process Wednesday of giving the second round of shots to those who have already received their first shots.
The initial shipment of vaccinations included 1,570 doses, but some vials contained one or two more doses than indicated, which helped to increase the numbers, Bevis said. He estimated over 1,600 shots were given the first week.
“We know we probably have hundreds more doses we need to give out to individuals before we can say comfortably that we think we’ve done all the 1As and we can be ready to move on to 1B,” he said.
Once the 1B phase begins, people in the 1A group who didn’t get vaccinated in the first phase can still do so; they wouldn’t move to the end of the line, he added.
Also on Wednesday, the state announced that the eligibility age for the 1B group was lowered from 75 to 65 to compensate for disparities with Latino and Black populations, who are disproportionately experiencing COVID-19 related deaths at younger ages.
Currently, the average age of COVID-19 death is 81 for white residents, 72 for Black residents and 68 for Latino residents, according to the governor’s office.
In Kankakee County, the 65 and older age group represents approximately 19,000 people.
The 1B group will also include “frontline essential workers” such as firefighters, law enforcement, postal service workers, grocery store workers, public transit workers, childcare workers, and teachers and school support staff.
The health department will notify the public as soon as it is able to move phases, set up clinics and take appointments for more people. It also has an automated hotline at 815-802-9311 to call for updates.
Bevis also stressed that while allergic reactions to the vaccination are possible, they are rare, and medical professionals will be nearby if treatment is needed.
He is encouraging everyone currently eligible for the vaccination to get it, as it is “a great opportunity to help knock COVID back.”
“The risks for the vaccine definitely [are outweighed by] the impact of having the virus and spreading it to a family member who then turns around and dies,” he said. “That’s a serious issue and a number of people have experienced that through last year.”
The Kankakee County Humane Foundation has been selected by Jordan’s Way Charities for a live fundraising event.
From 5 to 9 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 12, Kris Rotonda will be live-streaming from the shelter and raising funds for KCHF. Rotonda has been featured on “The Dodo” and Hallmark Channel USA for his advocacy of adoption and bringing awareness to animal shelters across the country. He is going from state-to-state to visit a handful of shelters in need of fundraising.
Jordan’s Way reached out to KCHF’s director Jordan Chapman to see if the shelter would be interested in a visit and a live stream. KCHF is delighted to have Rotonda visit and interact with the animals and the staff.
“He’s super interactive,” Chapman says of Rotonda’s videos. “He tries to get local businesses involved.”
Chapman explained that Rotonda works with local businesses and gives them live shout-outs along with the business’ donation.
Throughout the stream, Rotonda will be going through the shelter and highlighting the dogs, cats and other pets that are currently residing there. In past streams, he’s provided dogs with “pup cups” filled with whipped cream and often does ice bucket challenges with staff members when a certain donation goal is hit. A total of $10,000 is the fundraising goal for the event on Tuesday.
“He goes live and shares a Facebook fundraiser that we set up through the shelter,” Chapman explained. “Sometimes people get worried about a middleman and where the donation is going, but it’s set up to go directly to us.”
Jordan’s Way is a charity designed to clear the shelters and inspired by Rotonda’s dog, Jordan. In Jordan’s memory, Rotonda is traveling the nation to raise funds and find homes for animals.
“We all love our dogs, but my dog Jordan inspired me to change the world,” wrote Rotonda in a Facebook post. “Did you know that 800 shelters don’t have enough food to regularly feed the animals housed there?”
For more information and to catch the livestream, visit Kankakee County Humane Foundation on Facebook at @K3CHF. For more information on Jordan’s Way, visit Jordan’s Way Charities on Facebook at @jordanswaycampaign.
Bill Barnes said he was no longer interested in watching history unfold in front of him without taking part.
The 61-year-old Manteno man was also not interested in hiding behind a keyboard and a monitor tossing out his opinions and views regarding the goings-on in Washington, D.C., in these turbulent times.
At the urging of a friend, Barnes traveled to the nation’s capital Tuesday and had a front-row seat to the national drama which played out the next day before its citizens. Barnes was on hand Wednesday at the Capitol building when protesters breached an under-manned security force and entered the halls of Congress while lawmakers were attempting to certify the Electoral College vote.
“I wanted to put my money where my mouth is and not just toss my opinions out there behind some social media post,” Barnes explained Thursday while on a flight layover in Atlanta as he was making way back to Manteno this week. “Where I see this country is headed — which is not in a good direction — I wanted to say I care. The silent majority can longer just sit back.”
A 1977 graduate of Bradley-Bourbonnais Community High School and a business development manager for an international manufacturing company, Barnes explained he was perhaps 200 yards away from the Capitol building when some crowd members took matters into their own hands.
The security breach caused both chambers of Congress to evacuate to a secure location, delaying the vote certification process for several hours.
Barnes said he firmly believes those who breached the Capitol were not in support of President Donald Trump.
He said those in support of Trump who attended Tuesday night’s Freedom Mall rally, which he estimated was attended by 15,000 to 20,000 people, were highly emotional as they listened to former U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn and Trump confidant Roger Stone talk about the nation.
“I got choked up,” Barnes said. “This is what America is about. It was a crowd in which everyone had gathered peacefully. People were praising God, freedom. There were no scuffles. There were no problems. ... I never felt threatened. I never felt scared. It was all so peaceful.”
Until it wasn’t. On Wednesday morning, however, protesters breached the Capitol Building as Congress was tallying Electoral College votes.
‘IT WAS AN AWAKENING’
Barnes said he does not describe himself as a Republican, although he certainly voted for Trump.
“I’m an independent. I voted for [President Barack] Obama the first time. But I didn’t like the direction our country was taking with him.”
So when he was asked to head to D.C. for this past week’s events, Barnes booked an airline ticket and a hotel room. The friend had to back away from the trip, so Barnes decided to go it alone. Once he arrived in D.C., he quickly realized he was far from alone.
Although he spent perhaps a total of 40 hours in the nation’s capital from the time his plane landed to the time it departed for home, Barnes said the two-day experience is one he will never forget nor one he will ever regret having — even though between airfare, food and lodging he spent about $800.
“I would say it was an awakening for a lot of people who have had enough of what is being shoved down our throats,” he said. “If we don’t begin to stand up and become involved in this political process, we are all going to be controlled. Our presence has to be felt.
“I believe these two days were successful, just like Trump’s last four years in office. He exposed the corruption in Washington.”
Barnes quickly responded to the question of what he will take away from the rallies he attended and the people he met.
“I was inspired. I was proud. I was touched. And I was overwhelmed at times. This is what being an American is like,” he responded. “I’m more inspired now than ever.”
Barnes said his two-day stay was far more than he could ever imagined.
“I would say it was a life-changing event,” he said. “It was one of the events which I know will inspire me to continue to fight on. Who knows, maybe I’ll try to get involved in politics. This battle is not over. It was [former United Kingdom Prime Minister] Winston Churchill who said, ‘Never give up. Never give up. Never give up.’ I’m not going to accept what people in Washington or in Springfield tell us to do. They work for us; we don’t work for them.”
While the trip would be best described as eye-opening to Barnes, he said he wasn’t there for himself.
“I went there for our children, for the future of our country,” he said. “What I see happening in Washington is not good. Our liberties are being taken away. People are being programmed to be fearful. You can see it in their eyes.”